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19 August 2011 at 09:21 - Posted by Anonymous

State firm on Gauteng tolls - You Spoilt Brats


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The government has lashed out at critics of the tolling of Gauteng highways, effectively accusing South Africans of being spoilt brats who spend their money on frivolities such as cellphone airtime.

Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele and his energy counterpart, Dipuo Peters, came out with guns blazing against the public's resistance to the Gauteng tolls approved by the cabinet last week.

He said motorists had no option but to pay.

Peters said those rejecting the tolls were the worst of people who spent their money on "comforts" and not on essential services such as electricity.

"People buy cellphones, they pay for airtime, but when it comes to water, electricity and transport, people complain about the user-pays principle, knowing quite well that we need resources to maintain and operate this infrastructure," said Peters.

"It seems that there's a challenge here. People are prepared to pay for the comforts but are not prepared to pay for service delivery that is going to make it possible to improve their lives," he said.

Ndebele said the tolling of Gauteng's highways was now irreversible and motorists must pay.

The government would not budge.

"Freeways are not free. It's a done deal; it's a horse that has bolted and you can't roll it away; there isn't any other thing [but] to pay," he said.

Ndebele said the SA National Roads Agency had taken a massive R20-billion loan to finance improvements to the Gauteng freeway network - and that money had to be repaid.
"It's done; it's a R20-billion loan. It is time now for repayment. We cannot as a government do anything about that," he said.

The tolls approved by the cabinet had been revised because of the public outcry.
Commuter taxis and buses will be exempted from tolls.

The toll for motorcyclists has been reduced from 29c/km to 24c/km, and for cars from 49.5c/km to 40c/km. Non-commuter minibuses will pay R1/km, a drop of 49c/km.
Sensors installed on highways will record the licence plates of cars and drivers can expect to be sent a bill at the end of each month.

Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin said last week that motorists could buy pre-paid electronic tags at a discount.

The reduction of the tolls had not gone far enough, according to critics such as trade union federation Cosatu, business lobby group Busa and the Automobile Association, which all warned of the ripple effect of the tolls on the economy.

The tolls were first announced in February but were put on hold until after May's local government elections. They were set by the SA National Roads Agency.
Cosatu said last week that "the freeway tolls would impose a huge additional burden on road users while generating huge profits for those who have installed and will be running this R20-billion system".

Ndebele said the government had done all it could to make the tolls affordable.
The cabinet had "bent over backwards" on the tolls to minimise their effect on ordinary commuters.

Evidence of this was the exemption of commuter taxis and buses, he said.

Peters announced that her department would be pushing the government's crime-prevention and security cluster to categorise cable theft as a serious economic offence that amounted to sabotage.

"We need to make copper-cable theft a serious economic offence . it is socio-economic and political sabotage.

"A person who steals copper, who steals the cable, is a murderer, a thief and a saboteur because, without telecommunications and electricity, all the necessary services can come to a halt.

"An example is what happened with the Gautrain," she said.

The Gautrain service between Pretoria, Hatfield and Centurion was recently brought to a standstill by cable theft.

The energy minister said that the direct cost of cable theft to the economy was estimated to be R100-million a year.Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele and his energy counterpart, Dipuo Peters, came out with guns blazing against the public's resistance to the Gauteng tolls approved by the cabinet last week.

He said motorists had no option but to pay.

Peters said those rejecting the tolls were the worst of people who spent their money on "comforts" and not on essential services such as electricity.

"People buy cellphones, they pay for airtime, but when it comes to water, electricity and transport, people complain about the user-pays principle, knowing quite well that we need resources to maintain and operate this infrastructure," said Peters.

"It seems that there's a challenge here. People are prepared to pay for the comforts but are not prepared to pay for service delivery that is going to make it possible to improve their lives," he said.

Ndebele said the tolling of Gauteng's highways was now irreversible and motorists must pay.

The government would not budge.

"Freeways are not free. It's a done deal; it's a horse that has bolted and you can't roll it away; there isn't any other thing [but] to pay," he said.

Ndebele said the SA National Roads Agency had taken a massive R20-billion loan to finance improvements to the Gauteng freeway network - and that money had to be repaid.
"It's done; it's a R20-billion loan. It is time now for repayment. We cannot as a government do anything about that," he said.

The tolls approved by the cabinet had been revised because of the public outcry.
Commuter taxis and buses will be exempted from tolls.

The toll for motorcyclists has been reduced from 29c/km to 24c/km, and for cars from 49.5c/km to 40c/km. Non-commuter minibuses will pay R1/km, a drop of 49c/km.
Sensors installed on highways will record the licence plates of cars and drivers can expect to be sent a bill at the end of each month.

Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin said last week that motorists could buy pre-paid electronic tags at a discount.

The reduction of the tolls had not gone far enough, according to critics such as trade union federation Cosatu, business lobby group Busa and the Automobile Association, which all warned of the ripple effect of the tolls on the economy.

The tolls were first announced in February but were put on hold until after May's local government elections. They were set by the SA National Roads Agency.
Cosatu said last week that "the freeway tolls would impose a huge additional burden on road users while generating huge profits for those who have installed and will be running this R20-billion system".

Ndebele said the government had done all it could to make the tolls affordable.
The cabinet had "bent over backwards" on the tolls to minimise their effect on ordinary commuters.

Evidence of this was the exemption of commuter taxis and buses, he said.

Peters announced that her department would be pushing the government's crime-prevention and security cluster to categorise cable theft as a serious economic offence that amounted to sabotage.

"We need to make copper-cable theft a serious economic offence . it is socio-economic and political sabotage.

"A person who steals copper, who steals the cable, is a murderer, a thief and a saboteur because, without telecommunications and electricity, all the necessary services can come to a halt.

"An example is what happened with the Gautrain," she said.

The Gautrain service between Pretoria, Hatfield and Centurion was recently brought to a standstill by cable theft.

The energy minister said that the direct cost of cable theft to the economy was estimated to be R100-million a year.

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